No NFL HGH testing before season begins

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NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL notified its teams that no HGH testing will be conducted before the season begins next Thursday.

In a document sent to the league's management council and to all 32 teams, and obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, NFL lead counsel Jeff Pash says a disagreement with the union over testing procedures will prevent the program from starting before Week 1.

When the league and players' association struck a new collective bargaining agreement, blood testing for human growth hormone was part of the deal - but only if the union agreed to the methods.

The NFLPA has not agreed, however, saying it needs more information on the safety and reliability of the tests from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"We have little to no information on the fundamental aspects of WADA's HGH testing protocol or reliability," union spokesman George Atallah said. "We have an obligation to keep the game clean and safe, but we also have an obligation to a fair and safe testing process."

The NFL would be the first of the major American professional sports leagues to implement HGH testing.

Pash also sent the clubs some documents which he said address the union's questions, including: the process for drawing blood; how the blood samples will be shipped to testing laboratories; the labs the league is proposing to use; and, the manner in which thresholds for positive tests will be determined.

Commissioner Roger Goodell sent a letter to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on Tuesday reiterating the NFL's eagerness to implement HGH testing.

"The critical point in my view," Goodell wrote, "is that we now reaffirm our commitment to using the best science available, whether for HGH, steroids or any other prohibited substance. This principle has been and must remain at the heart of our programs."

On Wednesday, the union canceled its regularly scheduled conference call with its executive committee because of logistical problems associated with the final preseason games. One of the topics the player reps planned to discuss was HGH testing.


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